Candy

You will probably notice that some of the candy in Japan contains milk. Vegans also need to check for things like honey/蜂蜜/はちみつ/hachimitsu OR ハニ/hanī), gelatine/ゼラチン and animal-derived food colouring e.g. lac/ラック, which is from the lac insect and cochineal/コチニール, also produced from insects). It appears that while bright pinks are often synthetically produced, soft pinks such as the ones in Japanese sweets like daifuku sometimes come from cochineal and occasionally lac. Shellac, also from insects, can also be listed on labels as kōtaku-zai/光沢剤 (food) polisher/brightener, so it isn’t possible to know if that polisher/brightener is vegan without asking the manufacturer.

However, there is a lot of interesting vegan candy in Japan (of course there is always a question about whether the sugar was refined using animal bone char and whether the colouring agents were tested on animals). Let’s have a look at some of the common types of candy in Japan.

Bontan Ame/ボンタンアメ is a classic Japanese candy.

• Bontan Candy/ボンタンアメ. Ingredients: Starch syrup, sugar, malt sugar, glutinous rice, wafer sheet, concentrated Unshuu mikan juice, bontan juice, starch/flavor, annatto pigment, emulsifier (from soy).

From the website:

“What is Bontan Ame?
Launched in 1924, it is so unique and original that there is no confectionary like it. Its category varies: candy, soft candy or caramel. The unique texture and flavor have been highly regarded for decades.
Category: We have given Bontan Ame a category of its own. Since it has no competition and there is no similar product in the domestic market, we are proud of this unique product.
Background and Story of Development: Seika Foods was formerly Kagoshima Kashi Co., Ltd. and was in the business of glutinous starch syrup. One day, our founder saw his factory workers playfully cutting Chosen Ame (also called Gyuhi, a popular local confectionary in Kumamoto) into small pieces with scissors. This scene stuck with him and he came up with the idea of developing Bontan Ame. He added flavor and color to the candy and put them in a box like caramel. At the time, the target competition was Morinaga’s Milk Caramel.
Feature: All ingredients are of plant origin. The main ingredients are starch syrup, sugar, maltose and glutinous rice. Most of the glutinous rice we use is Hiyoku-mochi from Saga or Kumamoto Prefecture. Glutinous rice comes in unpolished. It is then cleaned, further polished and milled at our factory before being soaked overnight in cold water of 10℃ or below (known as “exposure to the cold”). The final process is steaming for two and half hours.
The finished candies are wrapped with a thin, starch wafer (made from potato and sweet potato flour) and they are soft, sticky and chewy. The fresh and sweet-sour flavor comes mostly from citrus fruits grown in southern Kyushu: Bontan extract (oil) from the Akune Pomelo; Sour Pomelo juice from Ichiki-Kushikino; and juice of Kyushu mandarin orange.”

bontaname

The next one appears to be vegan, but which isn’t. It contains lac as a colouring agent.

Kasugai Konpeitō/春日井こんぺいとう. Ingredients: Sugar, colouring (lac, yellow 4, yellow 5, blue 1). Photo from website.

kasugai konpeito new (1).jpg

 

However, Kasugai does make another variety of konpeito that does not contain lac.

Kasugai Summer Konpeitō/春日井なつ菓子 こんぺいとう

Ingredients: Sugar, flavouring, coloring (safflower yellow, paprika pigment, gardenia, red beet).

From website: Colorful sugar confection that was transmitted from Portugal in the Muromachi period. You can enjoy 5 tastes (sugar, peach, apples, grapes, cider). Photo from website.

kasugai konpeito no lac

 

Here is another example of a product that looks vegan but is not. According to the manufacturer, in the ball type in the Chocolate Effects series, the shellac is listed as kōtaku-zai/光沢剤 , (food) polisher/brightener, so this product is not vegan.

20190105_170908

In Japan, some types of candy that would ordinarily contain gelatine contain agar (寒天- kanten) instead. One example is the fruit jellies below. However it seems that many jelly beans made using agar also contain lactose, so are not vegan.

Fruits Up Jelly. Ingredients: Sugar, starch syrup, agar, oligosaccharide, starch, flavouring, colouring (red 102, yellow 4, yellow 5, blue 1, blue 2). Note: It is not known whether the flavouring is vegan.

Fruit JelliesFruit Jellies Ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

 

These similar-looking fruit jellies from a supermarket also use agar, but are not vegan because they contain cochineal (コチニール).

Agar Fruit Jellies/寒天フルーツゼリー. Ingredients: Sugar, starch syrup, agar, sorbitol, flavouring, colouring (cochineal, gardenia pigment, safflower yellow), pH adjusting agent.

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In general, import shops may be a good place to find vegan candies. The pictures below were taken in an import store called Carnival in Kamakura.

Katjes gelatin-free gummy candies are unicorn, fairy, rainbow and heart-shaped sour candies in five flavors: black currant, peach, raspberry, lime and blood orange. They have been spotted in National Azabu Supermarket and at least one Lawson store in Tokyo, as well as import stores like Jupiter and Kaldi, Sony Plaza and Mini Plaza stores.

In response to the question, “So why aren’t your products vegan?” the Katjes website FAQ section states:  “This is because most of our products are coated with natural beeswax. Without coating the yummy products in the bag they would all stick together. There are currently exceptions like our sugar drizzled products “Wunderland”, “Salzige Heringe” and “Lakritz Batzen.” However, due to manufacturing, all of our products can contain traces of milk, which is why even our products without beeswax are vegetarian and not vegan.”

The German and Japanese ingredient lists on the package appear significantly different, possibly due to variations in labeling laws between countries.

Katjes Wunderland Sauer (Sour). Ingredients: Sugar, glucose syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, concentrated fruit juice (apple, grape, black currant, lemon), concentrated black carrot juice, processed oils/gelling agent (modified starch), acidulant, yellow safflower coloring, red cabbage coloring, red daikon coloring, spirulina coloring, pH adjuster, flavoring. (Product contains wheat and apple.)

May contain traces of milk.

Although the website lists this as a gluten-free product, the Japanese label states that it contains wheat.

Made in Germany.

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The Katjes Wunderland White Edition are not vegan as they contain beeswax. It appears to be listed on the Japanese label only as kōtaku-zai/光沢剤, (food) polisher/brightener, which is the same thing the shellac is listed as in the Meiji Chocolate Effects ball series.

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The same Carnival import shop also had two flavours of gelatin-free Trolli spaghettini sour candies. They have also been seen at Don Quijote.

This time there were English ingredient lists on both packages, which we reproduced here. Again, the Japanese and English ingredients lists on the package appeared different- the English ingredient lists went into more detail.

The Trolli website describes them as “vegetarian,” but the ingredients appear vegan. Per the FAQ section on the Trolli website, “All Trolli products with the European Vegetarianism label are without animal ingredients. They are manufactured completely without gelatine and milk products. Instead of gelatine we use starch or pectin as a gelling agent. Good to know: our emulsifier E471 is also purely plant-based. We suggest that you browse through our full range and filter for vegetarian fruit gums.” Both products below are on Trolli’s list of “completely vegetarian” candies. It’s been reported that the company has stated that the reason these are listed as vegetarian instead of vegan is that they may have traces of beeswax from processing.

•  Trolli Spaghettini Sour Cola/トローリ スパゲティサワーコーラー. Ingredients: Gluctose-fructose syrup, sugar, wheat flour, acids: malic acid, citric acid; dextrose, flavouring, colour: sulphite ammonia caramel; antioxidants: ascorbic acid, tocopherol-rich extracts.

Made in the Netherlands.

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Trolli Spaghettini Sour Apple/トローリ スパゲティサワーアップル. Ingredients: Gluctose-fructose syrup, sugar, wheat flour, acids: malic acid, citric acid; dextrose, flavouring, antioxidants: ascorbic acid, tocopherol-rich extracts; colour: curcumin, brilliant blue FCF.

Made in the Netherlands.

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Trolli Spaghettini Sour, Strawberry/トローリ スパゲティサワーストロベリー. Ingredients: Gluctose-fructose syrup, sugar, wheat flour, acids: malic acid, citric acid, dextrose, strawberry juice from concentrated strawberry juice, flavouring, colouring foods (apple, pumpkin, tomato, radish), antioxidants: ascorbic acid, tocopherol-rich extracts.

Made in the Netherlands.

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It’s possible to find Skittles from the U.S. in import shops. These also were found in the same Carnival import shop.

Skittles Brightside/スキットルズ  ブライト サイド. Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, less than 2% of: citric acid, tapioca dextrin, modified corn starch, natural and artificial flavors, colors (titanium dioxide, yellow 5 lake, blue 1 lake, yellow 6 lake, red 40 lake, yellow 6, red 40, blue 1), sodium citrate, carnauba wax.

Made in a factory that also handles items containing egg and wheat.

Marked “Gluten-free, gelatin-free” in English on the back of the package. Contains palm oil.

The five flavours are Paradise Punch (Blue), Kiwi Banana (Yellow), Tangerine (Orange), Watermelon (Green), Pink Lemonade (Pink).

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Skittles Original/スキットルズ オリジナル. Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil; less than 2% of: citric acid, tapioca dextrin, modified corn starch, natural and artificial flavors, colors (Red 40 Lake, titanium dioxide, Red 40, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake), sodium citrate, carnauba wax.

Made in a factory that also handles items containing egg and wheat.

Marked “Gluten-free, gelatin-free” in English on the back of the package. Contains palm oil. Natural & artificial flavours.

The five flavours are grape, lemon, green apple, strawberry and orange.

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Skittles, Tropical/スキットルズ トリピカル. Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, less than 2% of: citric acid, tapioca dextrin, modified corn starch, natural and artificial flavors, colors (blue 1 lake, titanium dioxide, red 40, blue 1, yellow 5 lake, yellow 5, yellow 6 lake, yellow 6, red 40 lake, sodium citrate, carnauba wax.

Marked “Gluten-free, gelatin-free” in English on the back of the package. Contains palm oil.

The five flavours are banana berry, kiwi lime, mango tangelo, pineapple passionfruit, and strawberry star fruit.

It appears an older version of this flavour recently had gelatin, so be sure to check the ingredient list before eating.

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Skittles, Wild Berry/スキットルズ ワイルドベリー. Ingredients: Sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, less than 2% of: citric acid, tapioca dextrin, modified corn starch, natural and artificial flavors, colors (titanium dioxide, red 40 lake, red 40, yellow 5 lake, blue 1 lake, yellow 5, blue 1, yellow 6, blue 2 lake), sodium citrate, carnauba wax.

Marked “Gluten-free, gelatin-free” in English on the back of the package. Contains palm oil.

The five flavours are Berry Punch (violet), Melon Berry (green), Raspberry (blue), Strawberry (pink) and Wild Cherry (red).

An older version of this flavour recently had gelatin, so be sure to check the ingredient list before eating.

20190414_210531 (5)    20190414_210544 (4)

In general, 100 yen shops are a good place to look for candy. Here are just a few of the possibly vegan candies available on a recent trip to Can-do, a popular chain of 100 yen shops.

Dreamy Bean Paste Balls/ゆめのあじ あんこ玉. Ingredients: Fresh bean paste, starch syrup, sugar, maltose, glutinous rice flour.

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Gokabou. Ingredients: Soybeans (not genetically modified), glutinous rice flour, sugar, starch syrup, sorbitol, coloring agents (yellow 4, blue 1).

Per Wikipedia, “Gokabou is one of the Japanese wagashi, which is made and sold only in Saitama prefecture. Okoshi, a sweetened cake made of rice is mixed with sugar and then shaped into a cylinder. Wrapped in a sheet made by starch syrup and soybean powder and coated with soybean powder.”

20190211_164243 (2)    20190211_164250

Kawaguchi Seika Budou-chan Candy/川口製菓 ぶどうちゃんキャンデー. Ingredients: Sugar, starch syrup, dextrin, concentrated grape juice/acidulant, sorbitol, flavour, gelling agent (pectin (from apple)), anthocyanin pigment, red mold-Monascus purpurea pigment, gardenia pigment.

Manufactured on the same equipment as products containing milk.

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Kawaguchi Seika Lemon-chan Candy/川口製菓 レモンちゃんキャンデー. Ingredients: Sugar, starch syrup, salt, lemon juice, acidulant, flavor, turmeric pigment.

Manufactured on the same equipment as products containing milk.

Sweet-and-sour ring-shaped candy.

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Kawaguchi Seika Meron-chan Candy/川口製菓 メロンちゃんアメ. Ingredients: Sugar, starch syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, melon, starch hydrolyzate/acidulant, flavour, red mold-Monascus purpureus pigment, gardenia pigment, monascus pigment.

Manufactured on the same equipment as products containing milk.

20190211_164636 (3).jpg    20190211_164613 (2).jpg

Kawaguchi Seika Mikan-chan Candy/川口製菓 みかんちゃんキャンデー. Ingredients: Sugar, starch syrup, mandarin juice, acidulant, flavouring, paprika pigment, turmeric pigment.

Manufactured on the same equipment as products containing milk.

Uses mandarin juice from Wakayama Prefecture-grown mandarins.

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Kurokoshi/くろこし. Ingredients: Peanuts, sugar, starch syrup, processed Japanese brown sugar, wheat flour, corn starch, rice, black sesame, starch, vegetable oil, salt, yeast, powdered turmeric, leavening agent, caramel color, thickener (pullulan). (Product contains wheat, peanuts, and sesame.)

Made in a factory that also uses egg, milk, shrimp, crab, soybean, and cashew nuts.

A karintō snack with peanuts, black sesame and Japanese brown sugar syrup.

From Wikipedia: “Karintō is a traditional Japanese snack food. Sweet and deep-fried, it is made primarily of flour, yeast, and brown sugar. It has a deep brown and pitted appearance, and takes the form of a bite-sized pillow or short cylinder.”

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The following product may be vegan. It isn’t clear exactly what the caramel sauce is made of, although the package does state it contains kuromitsu.

Meito Kuromitsu Matcha Candy/Meito 黒みつ抹茶飴. Ingredients: Sugar (domestically processed), starch syrup, reduced starch syrup, brown sugar syrup, mirin, matcha, vegetable oil, caramel sauce, salt/flavouring, coloring (gardenia), cellulose, antioxidant (vitamin C), acidulant, emulsifier.

Uses kokuto, brown sugar from Okinawa, to make kuromitsu, brown sugar syrup.

Product does not contain any of the top 27 allergens.

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Mixed Dewdrops/しずく玉 ミックスアラカルト. Ingredients: Sugar (domestically processed), starch syrup/acidulant, flavouring, coloring (red mold-Monascus purpureus, gardenia, anthocyanin, safflower yellow), seasoning (amino acids, etc.), thickener (acacia gum).

Produced in a factory that makes products containing dairy, egg, and wheat.

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The following Okinawan Brown Sugar Candy may be vegan, but the package doesn’t specify what the edible oil is made out of.

Okinawan Brown Sugar Candy/沖縄黒糖飴. Ingredients: Sugar (unrefined sugar), processed brown sugar(raw sugar, brown sugar (50% from Okinawa)), starch syrup, edible oil.

Products containing dairy, soba, and peanuts are made in the same factory.

Uses kokuto sugar from Okinawa.

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Ribon Peanut Candies/リボン 落花飴. Ingredients: Sugar, starch syrup, peanuts, soy sauce. (Product contains wheat.)

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According to Wikipedia, “yōkan is a thick, jellied Japanese dessert made of red bean paste, agar, and sugar. It is usually sold in a block form, and eaten in slices.” It’s available many places in Japan, but these examples are also all from the 100-yen shop Can-do.

Imuraya Kintsuba Yōkan, 1 pc./井村屋 1コ入 きんつばようかん. Ingredients: Sugar, adzuki beans, starch syrup, raw bean jam (adzuki), agar, salt.

The box reads “contains none of the specified allergens.”

The same maker of a popular brand of adzuki bean popsicles in Japan also makes this item.

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Miyata Adzuki Yōkan/錦羊羹 小倉. Ingredients: Sugar, raw bean paste, adzuki beans, starch syrup, sugar.

This version contains whole adzuki beans inside.

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Miyata Yōkan/錦羊羹 本練. Ingredients: Sugar, raw bean paste, starch syrup, agar.

This version is smooth, without whole beans.

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Miyata Chestnut Yōkan//錦羊羹 栗. Ingredients: Sugar, raw bean paste, chestnut, starch syrup, agar, gardenia pigment, antioxidant (vitamin C).

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Miyata Matcha Yōkan/錦羊羹 抹茶. Ingredients: Sugar, raw bean paste, starch syrup, agar, matcha, coloring (safflower yellow, gardenia pigment).

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The following candy from the same Can-Do 100 yen shop is not vegan because it contains honey/ハチミツ.

Roasted Soybean Flour (Kinako) Sticks/きなこ棒. Ingredients: Roasted soybean flour (not genetically modified), processed brown sugar, starch syrup, reduced starch syrup, honey, oligosaccharides, salt/trehalose.

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10 thoughts on “Candy

  1. Megan

    Hey! I am going to Japan in twenty days and I am a vegetarian (but eat fish) and I am so lost! I am hoping to buy many sweets, but how would I know they don’t contain gelatin ect. Is there a symbol like they use in Britain? Thank you! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Friday chidlow

    Hello my daughter is very keen to have some of the Japanese sweets that are like kits by Kracie for example one of these kits contains hamburgers little coca cola bottle. Another kit has a donosaur theme.The company that sells them say their products are unlikely to be vegan but I wonder if you could review them so that we know what they do contain.

    Reply
    1. isitveganjapan Post author

      Hello! The ingredients are listed online as sugar, millet jelly, acidulant and flavouring. While the sugar may be bone-char processed and the source of the flavourings is unknown, it doesn’t contain any dairy/eggs/meat products that are identifiable from the ingredient list.

      Reply

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